Monday, December 7, 2020

The Hutchins Reefers Are Here

The CFT Hutchins can be readily identified by the humped roof and hatches in the center of the running board. 

One of the more interesting things in modeling the nineteenth century is the variety of cars which were produced. This was just the normal trial of different ideas and the better ones had just not risen to the top. One of the cars with a wide variety of ideas was the refrigerator car. The iced car invented by C. B. Hutchins became a moderately popular idea. It was popular enough that much of the fruit transported from California to the east were moved in Hutchins cars under the auspices of the California Fruit Transportation Company. While I have several stand-in CFT cars on the railroad, the opportunity to replace them with true Hutchins cars was much appreciated.
     Several years ago, Art Griffin produced a few resin car kits to complement his decal business. One of these was the Hutchins. I purchased some of these cars and have finally assembled a few. The kit was basically a two-piece model with the car sides/ends/roof cast in one piece with the floor in another. Grabirons and brake gear had to be added. I used Thielson swing motion trucks available from Wiseman Model Services in kit form.
This GARL Hutchins car is interesting due to the advertising of their lard product.
     The identifying features of the prototype, and the model, is that the roof is flat from side to side but humped in the middle in the lengthwise direction. This was due to the Hutchins patent where ice was stored in the roof area similar to the old household "ice box." Some of the known users of these cars were the CFT, Jacob Dold meat packers and the German American Refrigerator Line. My models included CFT and German American Provision cars.
The wood-sided Stanley car shows a 1902 build date  and is easily reworked to become a truss rod car.
     Another interesting car I put together this week was a private car for the Stanley Motor Carriage Company, makers of the famed Stanley Steamer automobile. I particularly liked this car since I have owned two steam cars, both designed and built by the Stanley brothers. This car was offered for sale as a money raiser by the Stanley Museum of Kingfield, Maine ( It is a custom-printed Accurail kit which is very easy to assemble. The cars are available in a 36-foot version and a 40-foot later car with a 1920 build date. Both are availabe for $25 each. You can order one by emailing the museum ( or calling and leaving a phone message at 207-265-2729.
The 36-foot car is a fish-belly design but I added queenposts and reworked it to be a truss rod version more suitable to my 1895 era. Trucks are included but I substituted archbar trucks on my model.
The Stanley automobiles were built into the late 1920s so these cars can be used on later era railroads as well. I should mention that neither of them are based on a prototype Stanley car. To my knowledge, The Stanleys never had their own railroads cars even though their cars were shipped all over the country by rail.


  1. The Stanley cars are great!
    All the cars show your excellent craftsmanship.

  2. Where can I get those C.F.T reefers?

    1. They were a limited run made by Art Griffin many years ago. Art has since gone out of business and the only place I could think of finding them would be on the EarlyRail list or ebay.